Born out of need, the K.I.D.S. Summer Camp uses local resources to find success

With activities such as hiking, fishing, games and activities, science projects, arts and crafts, water days, youth Zumba, field trips and more, the K.I.D.S. (Kickin’ It During Summer) Day Camp, hosted by the Town of Pagosa Springs, has no shortage of opportunities to create long-lasting, happy memories.

The goal of the camp, according to Parks and Recreation Director Darren Lewis, “is to provide a safe, fun, affordable and educational environment for children ages 5-12 and parents.”

The program was also designed to benefit families with day care needs during the summer — a benefit that extends not only to residents, but also to those visiting the area.

The idea for the summer camp was born several years ago when a pilot program called Summer of Exploring was implemented, Lewis explained. That program coincided with the Pagosa Springs Youth Center’s summer program.

However, in the fall of 2015, the youth center closed its doors, creating a void in the community for day care for school-aged children in the summer months.

Following the closure, numerous parents contacted Lewis to see if the town could help by starting a youth program, and Lewis in turn sat down with staff at the Ross Aragon Community Center (also run by the town) to see what could be done.

What came out of those pleas and discussions was K.I.D.S., which opened in June 2016 with the blessing (and financial backing of) the Pagosa Springs Town Council.

That first summer was considered nothing short of a success, with a wide range of ages participating and positive community feedback and support. The town council to put more money in to expand the program for 2018 and allow for more youngsters to attend, with the daily maximum now at 80 instead of 50.

The program’s success comes in part from its many community partners. In addition to using local resources such as parks and rivers, the program explores Chimney Rock National Monument and partners with agencies such as the Parks and Wildlife, EMS, Pagosa Fire Protection District, Weminuche Audubon Society, the Archuleta County Fair, school district and area businesses to provide unique content.

The K.I.D.S. Day Camp operates Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the summer. Children may not be dropped off  later than 9 a.m. nor picked up later than 5:30 p.m Monday through Thursday, and 4 p.m. on Friday.  

If space is available, tourists and summer visitors may register children ages 5-12 for daily or weekly activities. Immunization records and registration forms must be completed prior to child participation and there is a onetime registration fee of $15. The camp costs $25 per day or $85 per week, with a family discount available for siblings.

For more information, contact Jamie Carothers by calling (970) 264-4152, ext. 521 or by emailing jcarothers@pagosasprings.co.gov.